Sunday School Lesson June 4, 2017 Deborah and Barak
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Time: 1237 B.C. Place: Ephraim
Golden Text ” I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman” (Judges 4:9).
Israel backsliding from God caused them to fall in the hands of a Canaanite King, Jabin of Hazor whose military commander was Sisera. Sisera had nine hundred chariots whereas Israel had untrained foot soldiers with spears, arrows, swords and slings which would not be a comparison to trained soldiers and iron chariots and nine hundred of them. The land had rest eighty years which should have confirmed them in their religion but on the contrary, it made them secure and wanton. When they forsook God, God forsook them then they became an easy prey. The Canaanites had previously been conquered by Joshua and his army who slew and burned the city, but in a process of time, the city was rebuilt, Joshua had died as well Ehud and the Israelites returned to their sins. Israel had been oppressed for twenty years by Jabin and now they begin to cry out to the Lord.
I. Israel’s Crisis – Judges 4:1-3, II. Deborah’s Leadership – Judges 4:4-7, III. Barak’s Response – Judges 4:8-10
Lesson Outline: I. Israel’s Crisis Judges 4:1-3
Judges 4:1 – And the children of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, when Ehud was dead. After the deaths of Joshua and his contemporaries, the people of Israel abandoned the exclusive worship of Yahweh and returned to idolatry. Disregarding God’s warning they made peace with the Canaanites they were commanded to exterminate and intermarried with them and began to worship their deities. Their disobedience brought divine judgment in the form of invasion and oppression by their enemies. We can look at this divine judgment as God also deals with the believers of today when we continue to disobey His commandments. Divine judgment can be through our physical, emotional, mental health, finances as well as our family. God has ways to get our attention to know we have sinned against Him.
Judges 4:2 – And the Lord sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, which dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles. Years earlier Joshua had defeated a king of Hazor named Jabin. (And Joshua did unto them as the Lord bade him: he houghed their horses and burnt their chariots with fire. And Joshua at that time turned back and took Hazor, and smote the king thereof with the sword: for Hazor beforetime was the head of all those kingdoms – Joshua 11:9-10). It may have been Jabin was a title rather than a proper name resembling the use of the title Abimelech among the Philistines or Ben-Hadad among the kings of Damascus. Because of Israel’s disobedience, God gave them over to their enemies, He didn’t protect them, He allowed them to be taken captive.
Judges 4:3 – And the children of Israel cried unto the Lord: for he had nine hundred chariots of iron; and twenty years he mightily oppressed the children of Israel. The Israelites “cried unto the Lord, their distress drove them to Him, and they saw no other way of relief. When Israel’s leaders, the judges Ehud and Shamgar died, the nation strayed from its covenant with God and worshiped the gods of the Canaanite people who still resided in the land. God allowed Israel’s enemies to dominate them. Sisera strength laid in him having nine hundred iron chariots and trained soldiers. Israel had been oppressed by the king of Canaan for twenty years. One would think, why did it take them so long to begin to cry out to God for help, was it stubbornness, or was it the length of time God gave them to be oppressed by their enemy?
Lesson Outline: II. Deborah’s Leadership – Judges 4:4-7
Judges 4:4 – And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. Deborah is one of five women to be called a prophetess in the Old Testament: Miriam, Huldah, Isaiah’s wife and a false prophetess Noadiah. At this time, Deborah was the judge of Israel. Before Israel cried out to God, her duties had been civil, not military. She held court in the hill country of Ephraim. There the Israelites brought her their disputes to settle. Deborah was the wife of Lapidoth.
Judges 4:5 – And she dwelt under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in mount Ephraim: and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. The place at where Deborah sat to judge was known as the palm of Deborah’s a designation that obviously arose because of the tree’s prominence in her ministry. It was located between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, this was the southern part of the territory of Ephraim.
Judges 4:6 – And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded, saying Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? Evidently, God revealed to Deborah He had spoken to Barak prior to Deborah summoning him for her to say “Hath not the Lord God of Israel commanded”. She reiterated what God had probably had already spoken to Barak by her asking him the question. Barak was from the area of the Canaanite oppression and a likely choice to lead the resistance. Deborah may have been influential, but she made it clear that she did not call Barak on her own authority but relayed the command of God. The Lord’s command was to “go and draw toward Mount Tabor and take with him ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun. “Draw” implies that Barak was to lead the way and induce Israel’s troops to follow him to the appointed location. They would not march there as a body but congregate gradually as the word reached tribe and locality.
Judges 4:7 – And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. She clearly defined God’s battle plan: Barak was to march ten thousand troops from the northern tribes of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead them to Mount Tabor, a steep, rounded mountain northeast of the Sea of Galilee. Then God would draw Sisera and his army to the nearby Kishon River and deliver them into Barak’s hand. The victory would be God’s doing.
Lesson Outline: III. Barak’s Response – Judges 4:8-10
Judges 4:8 – And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, then I will not go. Barak agreed to answer God’s call on the following condition, Deborah must accompany him. The request for Deborah to go could have been she was a prophetess of God and she would hear and give directions to them as she heard from God. Or it could have been he knew God would protect her and if she’s with them they would be protected; whatever the cause was, Barak wanted Deborah to be with him and his troop.
Judges 4:9 – And she said, I will surely go with thee: notwithstanding the journey that thou takest shall not be for thine honour; for the Lord shall sell Sisera into the hand of a woman. And Deborah arose, and went with Barak to Kedesh. Deborah agreed to go with him, but her response hinted that Barak’s hesitation was negative, and the honor that normally went to a victorious general would go to a woman, not to Barak. At that time Barak didn’t know who the woman was all he knew it could have been Deborah. Deborah was exercising servant leadership. She momentarily set aside her own responsibilities to make sure Barak, a man under her succeeded. She ignored her own comfort to make the long, hot dusty road to Barak’s hometown, Kedesh. Later, she climbed steep Mount Tabor with the troops. What an example this is for leaders as well as sisters and brothers in Christ to help each other to get the work done that God would get the glory. True leadership is not about who will get the honor, but assisting others to carry out the plan of God. Two or more people who trust in God are mightier than the best-equipped army that does not. We were never meant to face difficulties of life alone, this is why we have been instructed to pray for one another, encourage one another and to help one another. God delivered Sisera into the hands of a woman named Jael, as the battle was heated Sisera fled to Heber’s tent. Taking advantage of the good relationship between Jabin and her family, Jael lured Sisera into the tent with the promise of sustenance and rest, but while he slept she drove a peg into his temple, killing him instantly.
Judges 4:10 – And Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali to Kedesh; and he went up with ten thousand men at his feet: and Deborah went up with him. Barak returned to his home and successfully rallied ten thousand men from his tribe, Naphtali, and from the tribes of Ephraim, Benjamin, Manasseh, Zebulun, and Issachar. The followed the instructions of God and climbed Mount Tabor’s slopes to await God’s deliverance from their oppressors. Deborah’s presence most likely encouraged the tribes to go with Barak as well as God preparing their hearts to go. In spite of Barak’s initial lack of faith, the Lord used him to achieve a great victory for Israel and his name is listed with the other heroes of faith in the book of Hebrews.